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Giguere Is Not Into Wild Party Idea

Goalie makes a dazzling stop of a shot by Gaborik, keeping the Minnesota crowd from erupting.

May 11, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Arms holding white towels were poised to thrust the objects in the air, ready to set off a wall of sound at Xcel Energy Center when the NHL's leading playoff scorer had the puck on his stick with an open net in front of him.

After all, the words automatic and forward Marian Gaborik have been almost synonymous when it comes to open nets on the power play in this mystical playoff run by the Minnesota Wild. He even started to raise his arms in celebration after getting the shot off.

Instead, the arms stayed down and jaws dropped on the Wild bench.

The mood-breaker, Mighty Duck goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, slid over and made a dazzling, desperate lunging stick save a little more than 11 minutes into in the second period.

Gaborik did nothing wrong. It was just that Giguere did everything right.

"I thought for sure it was going in," said Gaborik, who has a league-leading nine goals and 17 points in 15 playoff games, with four power-play goals.

That was the general impression among the 19,350 fans in the building and Gaborik's teammates long before the Mighty Ducks managed to win, 1-0, in double overtime Saturday afternoon.

"There were a lot of open mouths on the bench," Minnesota center Wes Walz said. "We saw him get it on his backhand and saw where the goalie was.

"I thought for sure it was going in. So, it's just one of those things. You can't get down by it. Patrick Roy made a save on me in Game 3 that was very similar where he was out of the play."

Said Gaborik: "It hit something. I took a backhander, and he just saved it on the goal line."

If the Wild didn't realize the Mighty Ducks weren't the Vancouver Canucks and that Giguere isn't the beleaguered Dan Cloutier, that save delivered the message in no uncertain terms.

Sixteen goals ... and none.

The Wild scored 16 goals in the final three games of the second-round series against the Canucks. Minnesota had 39 shots on goal, and four players had four shots each, including Gaborik.

But Giguere's second-period save on Gaborik stood out above the others.

"That save kept us in the game," Coach Mike Babcock said.

Playoffs are all about adjustments, and the next chess move is up to the Wild in this Western Conference final. Goaltending was not among their problems as Manny Fernandez could not have been blamed for giving up the game-winner on an outnumbered attack.

Fernandez, who was not available for comment, showed no signs of rust even though it was his first game since Game 4 against Vancouver on May 2.

Goaltender Dwayne Roloson played the final three games of the Canuck series and the Wild did not want him to aggravate his injured groin.

"Our goaltenders, flip a coin," Walz said. "They're both outstanding goalies. We're lucky to have two -- it's a great luxury. It's an advantage we have over other teams, no question about it

"He [Fernandez] played unbelievable for us, both the goaltenders were right on top of their games. You can't ask for much more from either goalie."

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